The original Empire Firehouse was the second of San Jose's firehouses, constructed in 1869 to house the Empire Fire Engine Company No. 1. The Company had begun in 1854 as a volunteer firefighting team under foreman Charles E. Allen, and was also known as the "Irish Company." Ironically, the station was destroyed by a fire in 1892. History Park's replica of the firehouse was built in 1984.


  • The reconstructed Empire Firehouse in History Park (image from History San Jose)
    The reconstructed Empire Firehouse in History Park (image from History San Jose)
  • The Empire Fire Station during an antique auto event (image from San Jose in 2018)
    The Empire Fire Station during an antique auto event (image from San Jose in 2018)
  • Historic photo of the original Empire Firehouse (image from the Sourisseau Academy)
    Historic photo of the original Empire Firehouse (image from the Sourisseau Academy)
  • Empire Firehouse historic marker (image from Historical Marker Database)
    Empire Firehouse historic marker (image from Historical Marker Database)

The original Empire Firehouse was the second of San Jose's firehouses, constructed in 1869 to house the Empire Fire Engine Company No. 1. The Company had begun in 1854 as a volunteer firefighting team under foreman Charles E. Allen, and was also known as the "Irish Company." Ironically, the station was destroyed by a fire in 1892. History Park's replica of the firehouse was built in 1984.

The volunteer Empire Engine Company No. 1, or the Irish Company, was admitted to the San Jose Fire Department on July 24, 1854. Its engine was a New York side lever purchased from San Francisco's fire department, and its foreman was Charles E. Allen. In 1869, the company moved to the two-story brick Empire Firehouse on South Second Street (the present-day location of the Jose Theatre) next door to Krumb's Brewery. This was the second fire station in San Jose, the first being at Lightson Street. The Empire Company manned the city's first steam-powered fire engine, hauling it by hand until 1871, when horses became part of the team. The horse stalls, located at the rear of the firehouse, were wired to respond to the fire alarm: the doors opened on an automatic spring mechanism and harnesses lowered from the ceiling. All the driver had to do was fasten the collars and attach the engine in a matter of seconds. In July of 1892, the Empire Firehouse fell victim to a fire which destroyed several blocks of downtown San Jose. The replica of the Empire Firehouse at History Park is used as an interactive exhibit space. For more about the history of San Jose's Fire Department, see Clio entry on the San Jose Fire Museum.

1. Halberstadt, April. "Fire! San Jose Fire Department." Sourisseau Academy. 2015. Accessed February 5, 2017. https://www.sourisseauacademy.org/LADS/January2016LADS.pdf.
2. History San Jose. "Empire Firehouse". Accessed February 5, 2017. http://historysanjose.org/wp/plan-your-visit/history-park/empire-firehouse/
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